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U.S. 31 project through Holland enters new phase, complicates traffic

By Caleb Whitmer/The Holland Sentinel • May 17, 2016 at 3:00 PM

HOLLAND — Maneuvering Holland Township roads got a lot more complicated Monday morning as Phase II of the U.S. 31 reconstruction project began.

The $24 million, eight-month project kicked off in March. When the Michigan Department of Transportation finishes in November, U.S. 31 will have expanded to three lanes in each direction between Quincy Street and Lakewood Boulevard, and fully reconstructed between Quincy and Eighth streets.

In February, a local road official told the Sentinel the endeavor is West Michigan’s largest road project since the construction of the Gerald R. Ford Freeway.

Beginning Monday morning, MDOT shifted all traffic on the highway onto the northbound side. Two lanes of traffic will run in each direction between Ransom Street and Lakewood Boulevard. At Lakewood, southbound traffic becomes one lane until Eighth Street.

The new traffic configuration doesn’t allow for left turns at any of the corridor’s major intersections. Additionally, the roadwork will close several major ramps, including the southbound entrance ramp from Lakewood Boulevard, the southbound exit ramp to Chicago Drive and both southbound entrance ramps from Chicago Drive.

On Monday morning, the detours appeared to be backing up traffic on southbound 120th Avenue to its intersection with Chicago. Asked if MDOT would consider altering that traffic light’s pattern, a spokesman for the project said he hadn’t seen any issues there.

He added, however, that MDOT would look at traffic signals throughout the detour routes over the next few days and make adjustments as needed.

“If there are opportunities to be had (easing traffic flow), we will do that,” said Leo Evans, assistant construction engineer with MDOT.

With traffic shifted, MDOT will reconstruct and expand the southbound lanes. This phase of the project will last until mid-August.

At that point, everything flips. Traffic will continue in two lanes northbound and one lane southbound below Lakewood — but it will all be on the southbound side while MDOT tears up and rebuilds northbound. MDOT plans to complete the project in November outside of some minor bridge work set for spring 2017.

Up until now, MDOT’s work on the just under 5-mile stretch of highway has been restricted to prepping the site for Monday’s traffic crossover. During Tulip Time last week, the work crew upgraded the traffic lights at each of the highway’s major intersections.

“So that we can maintain both directions of traffic over there,” Evans said.

Read the rest of the story at The Holland Sentinel website.

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